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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Scooter Bond: Shaken, Not Stirred

The contours of the Scooter Defense begin to take shape in the MSM. How do they find time in between carrying Rove's water? Remarkable.

The NYT adopts the John Dean spin:
But friends and associates said Mr. Libby is not at heart a political animal. They suggest that whatever legal problems he faces from his role in pushing back at criticism by a former ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV, of the administration's use of pre-war intelligence about Iraq's weapons programs, he was acting not as a political hatchet man but in defense of ideas and policies he believed in.
(((BWA HA HA HA HA!!!)))

Then there's the WaPo article so glowing Scooter could've written it himself. On his "aspen clusters:"
The spy-novel dexterity of Libby's mind and the odd flamboyance of his prose raised questions that he might have been trying to say something more.
We on earth call it "dreck."
Libby greatly admires the work of Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian who posits that warfare is an inevitable part of civilization, evil is a basic condition of humanity, and tyrants must be confronted by the harshest possible means.
I guess that's supposed to make him sound like a real renaissance man. Bloggers who know Victor Davis Priapus Gravitas Hanson, the bard of Fresno, as an inveterate boner waver and all-around jackbooting creep know this fact alone should earn Scooter three squares in the federal pen for the foreseeable future.
"Cheney and Scooter play chess on several different levels," Matalin says. "That's how their minds work. It's not about what's right in front of him. They look at things in the sweep of history.

"The Wilson thing was almost mosquitoesque."
I'm getting it. These men are great patriots, brilliant statesmen with a dash of Malraux thrown in for good measure, acting on such a grand stage that L'affair Plame hardly registered.

Let's be clear: I don't really care why you shot the clerk and robbed the liquor store. You can tell your story to the judge.


Times Staffers Duke it Out

The dogs and I arrived safely in Oregon today after three days on the road. We got to have a delightful coffee with fellow Plame-ologist eRiposte from The Left Coaster and owe a great debt to ReddHedd for holding down the fort while we were cut off from the steady drip of the high-speed internet IV. She did a terrific job and although the withdrawal symptoms were acute we are very happy to be settled in on the beach for what promises to be one of the most rip-snorting news weeks in recent political history.

We'd also like to thank Maureen Dowd for finally weighing in on Judy Miller. Sounds like things with MoDo just got more vituperative for having been held back so long. A free version is here, but from what I can tell it really boils down to "accuracy is hard to come by when you do your reporting with your legs in the air."

Then tonight Public Editor Barney Calame weighed in with his delicately worded investigation of the Judy matter. His take:
The apparent deference to Ms. Miller by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, and top editors of The Times, going back several years, needs to be addressed more openly, especially in view of the ethics issues that have come to light.
"Deference?" "Going back several years?" Is that, like, code or something?

He doesn't exactly answer Jay Rosen's query about whether Judy had government clearance or not, but he agrees it's a damn good question. One would not say the Times ventures perilously far out on a limb with this piece.

But Judy is nonetheless bristling, shooting back a reflex memo after Bill Keller tried to salvage what little remains of the Times' journalistic authority by questioning her (*urp*) " principles."

Sez Judy:
"As for your reference to my 'entanglement' with Mr. Libby, I had no personal, social, or other relationship with him except as a source."
Do you get the feeling that they're all having a conversation amongst themselves they're only vaguely aware we're eavesdropping on?

Update: Roger adds his two cents, which, per usual, are worth more than anyone else's Benjamins.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rove: Get Back Under That Bus, Scooter

This is obviously the third act of Treasure of the Sierra Madre. From AP:
Rove told grand jurors it was possible he first heard in the White House that Valerie Plame, wife of Bush administration Joseph Wilson, worked for the CIA from Libby's recounting of a conversation with a journalist, according to people familiar with his testimony.

Rove testified he probably first heard of Wilson's wife in a casual social setting outside the White House in the spring of 2003 but could not remember who provided the information.
Forget the Avian flu, contact memory loss seems to be spreading like wildfire.
In testimony shown to Rove, Libby stated that numerous journalists appeared to have learned about Plame's identity in the period before her name was published and that he and Rove talked to each other about their contacts with reporters.

Libby's testimony stated that Rove had told him about his contact with Novak and that Libby had told Rove about information he had gotten about Wilson's wife from NBC's Tim Russert, according to a person familiar with the information shown to Rove.

Prosecutors, however, have a different account from Russert. The network has said Russert told authorities did not know about Wilson's wife's identity until it was published and therefore could not have told Libby about it.
Poor old Pumpkinhead. Tried to hide behind oblique non-statements. Wonder how he's going to feel when his testimony gets used to hang Scooter by the yardarm.

Hey Timmeh, hows about you have yourself on Press the Meat this Sunday and grill yourself over it?
Rove was pressed by prosecutors on several matters, including why he failed to mention during the first of his four grand jury appearances that he also had discussed the Plame matter with a second reporter, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine.

Rove testified during the first appearance about his contacts with Novak in the days before Novak wrote a column outing Plame's identity. When asked generally if he had conversations with other reporters in that session, he answered "no."

Rove and his lawyer subsequently discovered an e-mail Rove had sent top national security aide Steve Hadley referring to a brief phone interview he had with Cooper.

The e-mail jogged Rove's memory and during a subsequent grand jury appearance, he volunteered his recollections about his conversation with Cooper, and his lawyer provided the e-mail to prosecutors. Cooper also wrote a story about Plame.
Well hallelulah, I have seen the light. The internets can now cure amnesia.


Judith Miller and the WHIGs

New York Daily News:
It was called the White House Iraq Group and its job was to make the case that Saddam Hussein had nuclear and biochemical weapons.

So determined was the ring of top officials to win its argument that it morphed into a virtual hit squad that took aim at critics who questioned its claims, sources told the Daily News.


Besides Rove and Libby, the group included senior White House aides Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James Wilkinson, Nicholas Calio, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley. WHIG also was doing more than just public relations, said a second former intel officer.

"They were funneling information to [New York Times reporter] Judy Miller. Judy was a charter member," the source said.
How could such a cozy relationship come about? Alterman paints us a hypothetical picture of the WHIG game plan to scam the world:
Working through Miller, and taking advantage of her closeness to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, and the fact that she wouldn’t let anybody edit her but somehow managed get almost anything to the paper—[She called herself "Miss Run Amok," and said it meant “I can do whatever I want.”]—the guys figured out that by feeding Judy bad stuff, they could not only avoid the Times laborious editing process but they could sell their war through its pages.

1. Get Judy to write a whole bunch of phony stories about what a meanie Saddam was.  Give her unlimited access to that Chalabi guy and promise her that he always tells the truth.

2. Have a war.  Give Judy her favorite unit to hang with.  Let her pin medals on the guys if she wants.  Hell, let her wear the goddam uniform.  If they give her any flack, have her call Rumsfeld--or threaten to—that ought to be good enough.

3. When nobody finds any weapons, get Judy to somehow convince her editors to print stuff from an “engineer” whom she is not even allowed to talk to, confirming all the lies she’s been printing, on the front page.  Allow the Pentagon to edit her copy.  Tell Rush and everybody to go crazy with this stuff because, you know, it’s in the Times, they’re Commies, so if they admit it....

4. Give her a “security clearance” so she can’t legally write anything you don’t want her to write, though that may not be necessary…

5. Tell her what a meanie Joe Wilson is and that his wife works for those other meanies, the CIA, even though that’s against the law.  Pretend you’re a “former Hill staffer” when she brings it up, though.  Get Novak to write it if her editors start to feel funny about you know, breaking the law.  (Tell him it’s an order if he whines about losing his CNN gig.)

6. When they finally figure out how badly she screwed them on the WMD stuff, have her tell them she wants to cover Bolton.  No really.  He can give her some of that crap about Cuba having WMDs, too.  I promise you we’re not kidding.  It’ll work.

7. When that stops working—it will have to, eventually--get her to go to jail for the principle of not telling her readers who lied to her—or whom she lied to.  Make it sound like something else, though.  (Duh.)
Wrap in First Amendment. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


Wurmser Sings Too?

Raw Story:
A second aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with the special prosecutor's probe into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, those close to the investigation say.


Now, those close to the investigation say that a second Cheney aide, David Wurmser, has agreed to provide the prosecution with evidence that the leak was a coordinated effort by Cheney’s office to discredit the agent's husband. Her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, was one of the most vocal critics of the Iraq war.

Wurmser, Cheney’s Middle East advisor and an assistant to then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, likely cooperated because he faced criminal charges for his role in leaking Wilson's name on the orders of higher-ups, the sources said.

According to those familiar with the case, Wurmser was in attendance at several meetings of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a little-known cabal of administration hawks that formed in August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Those who say they have reviewed documents obtained in the probe assert that the Vice President was also present at some of the group’s meetings.

Wurmser did not return a call seeking comment.


The sources say that Hannah and Wurmser were given orders by senior officials in Cheney’s office in June 2003 to leak Plame’s covert status and identity in an attempt to muzzle Wilson. The White House Iraq group was founded by Bush chief of staff Andrew Card and operated out of the Vice President’s offices.


To spread its message that Saddam Hussein was a nuclear threat, WHIG relied heavily on New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who, after meeting with several of the organization’s members in August 2002, wrote an explosive story that many critics of the war believe laid the groundwork for military action against Iraq.

On Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002, Miller wrote a story for the Times quoting anonymous officials who said aluminum tubes found in Iraq were to be used as centrifuges. Her report turned out to be wrong.

Wurmser’s cooperation with Fitzgerald would certainly come as no surprise to those who have been following his career. Last year, he was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his possible role in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel.

According to a 2004 story in the Washington Post, the FBI interviewed officials in Cheney’s office and the Pentagon, including Hannah and Wurmser, former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to determine if they were involved in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel, the former head of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmed Chalabi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The revelation that Hannah and Wurmser have become prosecution witnesses, as well as being identified as the original sources of the leak, indicates Fitzgerald now may be looking into the motive for outing Plame and how Administration officials sought to derail a vocal critic of Iraq intelligence.


Hannah and Wurmser were first named as possible suspects in the Plame leak by Wilson, Plame’s husband, in his book, The Politics of Truth.

“In fact, senior advisers close to the president may well have been clever enough to have used others to do the actual leaking, in order to keep their fingerprints off the crime,” Wilson writes.

“John Hannah and David Wurmser, mid-level political appointees in the vice-president’s office, have both been suggested as sources of the leak …Mid-level officials, however, do not leak information without the authority from a higher level,” Wilson notes.
All I can say for Raw Story is -- so far Larisa's been right, and way ahead of the curve.

If this is true, Fitzgerald has a frigging NeoCon choir on his hands.


Bill Keller and the View From Down There

Via Crooks & Liars, we hear the New York Daily News is eavesdropping at the Times:
The New York Times gave Judith Miller 3,454 words in Sunday's paper to defend her actions in the Valerie Plame affair. But we hear Miller didn't appreciate the scourging she got in an accompanying 5,805-word analysis of "The Miller Case." We're told that colleagues heard Miller and executive editor Bill Keller screaming at each other in the hours before the story went to bed. (A Times spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Miller and Keller had traded words.)
So now he's upset? Right as all hell is breaking loose he takes of to China? Could he find any place more remote? (As Digby said, "what -- Antarctica was booked?) He is by all reports well liked within the Times (i.e., not an asshole), but it's time for him to suck this one up.

People do skeevy shit to hold onto their jobs all the time. Keller booted Miller off of WMD reporting in July 2003 shortly after he became Editor in Chief at the Times. But in light of what's happened, how do you live down statements like this? (From August of this year, in Salon):
"While the questions of what Judy knew, and what she was working on, may be matters of general curiosity, the answers don't touch the heart of the case," he claims. "The question of what is going on with the case -- meaning what the special prosecutor is up to, and why he seems to regard Judy as important to the case -- is a mystery to me. It's something I'd like to have answered -- not just for our staff, but for our readers."
You were absolutely right, Bill. We're still plagued by a buttload of "general curiosity" that the Times article did little to satisfy. So sorry it did not live up to the turgid drama Judy is writing about herself in her head (and sadly, on the front pages of the Times.)

Hope all is swell in China. We hear the lamb skewers with cumin and chili are the bomb.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Who Planted One in Scooter's Back?

That's right, it's been a while, time for me to bang on about those leaked letters again. Well, you'll be happy. This time I have some news, and it's pretty interesting.

Those who have been folliowing the story will recall that on October 1, following Judith Miller's release from jail on September 29 and her testimony before the grand jury on September 30, the New York Times ran an article that was accompanied by a PDF of three letters:

1. One from Scooter Libby to Judith Miller (the famous "aspens are turning" letter)
2. One from Scooter's attorney, Joseph Tate, to Judith Miler's criminal attorney, Bob Bennett
3. One from Judith Miller's First Amendment attorney, Floyd Abrams, to Joseph Tate.

The letters were so damning to Libby that I had to wonder where they came from, and what the motives were of the people who decided to leak them. And I speculated at the time that Patrick Fitzgerald may not have had those documents prior to that leak, and about how the complexion of the case might change as a result.

I have been really surprised that this question hasn't piqued the curiosity of more people, especially when Fitzgerald's September 12 letter (PDF) was leaked the next day to the New York Sun, and it became clear that he had in fact asked not to see any letter that Libby wrote to Miller, promising not to hit them with an obsturction charge so long as Scooter did not coach Judy's testimony. It is therefore probable that Scooter wrote his saccharine prose thinking that Fitzgerald would never lay eyes on it.

Since that time, I find that most of the people I talk to accept the conventional wisdom that the documents were leaked by the Times who thought it was in Judy Miller's interest to do so, since the letters demonstrate that she did, in fact, seek a waiver from Libby, contrary to what his attorney Joseph Tate was saying. But the notion that the corporate end of the paper (Sulzberger, etc.) whose primary directive seems to be watch your ass, boy would go out on that kind of legal and ethical limb never made any sense to me.

Now a source at the New York Times is confirming that the documents did in fact come to them via an outside leak. According to the person who wishes to remain anonymous, the documents were in circulation and available to "journalists working on the story" as early as September 29, the day of Judy's release from jail. By the time they were published by the Times on October 1, the content of the Fitzgerald letter was also known to people at the Times, although they had not seen it.

Who leaked the letters? Nobody who knows is telling. But in light of Bob Bennett's appearance on This Week on Sunday, Swopa's theory is making a whole lot of sense, namely that when Bennett received Libby's letter he realized he had a hot potato in his lap. If he didn't turn it over to Fitzgerald, his client might be looking at serious obstruction charges if it was ever discovered.

On the other hand, the response that makes the most sense in that situation is to hand it over to the Special Counsel rather than leak to the media. Did whoever leaked those letters to the Times and others have an agenda to publicly bury Libby? Fitzgerald may or may not have had them prior to their publication, but the release to the media of those letters guaranteed that the public knew Scooter was going to walk the plank.


Vice President Rice?

US News:
Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.


The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn't get the job or run for president in 2008.

"Isn't she pro-choice?" asked a key Senate Republican aide.
Yeah. Because, you know, the fact that Rice might be pro-choice really is the important thing in all of this.

I guess it's pretty much impossible to pick a name Republican who isn't implicated in this or some other scandal.


"Valerie Flame": From July and not June

Among the many things left vague by Judith Miller's non-apology piece in the Times last Saturday is where exactly in her notes the words "Valerie Flame" appeared, since she acknowledges that the source of these information was not Scooter Libby.

According to a sources within the NYT who wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, the "Valerie Flame" reference appeared in the July notes. Which means (assuming Judy is telling the truth -- and as the source noted, that's always a big assumption) that her attorney Bob Bennett had access to this information when he negotiated her deal with Patrick Fitzgerald.

The source also confirmed that her deal with Fitzgerald did, in fact, allow her to limit her testimony to Scooter Libby -- some had speculated that because Floyd Abrams and Bob Bennett had in interviews made more broad references to the fact that it was limited to anything Plame-related that Judy might, in fact, be skating around the corners of the truth again.

Which raises a couple of interesting points. It would appear that Fitzgerald thinks he has bigger fish to fry than the source of this other leak. But if her deal is still on, and Fitzgerald can only ask her questions about Libby, how does this comment (from Judy's article) get explained away?
Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I could recall discussing the Wilson-Plame connection with other sources. I said I had, though I could not recall any by name or when those conversations occurred.
Further, as Digby noted (in conversation) if Judy got her second leak from another source in July after the whole thing had gone full-blown and turned into a huge scandal, it makes her look even worse than a June leak would. While it might be possible that early on she wouldn't remember who told her something that at the moment was not that critical, by the time she was interviewing Libby in July Joe Wilson's op-ed piece had already appeared in the Times and the controversy was raging.

Judy has worked as a professional "journalist" (and I use that term loosely) for decades. What are the odds that at this point her memory goes all wonky?


Monday, October 17, 2005

Going Doooooooowwwwnnnnn......

The MSM has become a veritable leak factory as we await the imminent approach of Hurricane Patrick. Tonight, the WaPo starts to sketch out what look to be the contours of Fitzgerald's case -- namely that the outing of Valerie Plame was just the latest chapter in Dick Cheney and the NeoCon's long-running battle with the CIA, much as Joe Wilson always claimed.

Stuff we know now that we didn't know before:
Senior administration officials said there was a document circulated at the State Department -- before Libby talked to Miller -- that mentioned Plame. It was drafted in June as an administrative letter and addressed to then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, who was acting secretary at the time since Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage were out of the country.

As a former State Department official involved in the process recalled it, Grossman wanted the letter as background for a meeting at the White House, where the discussion was focused on then growing criticism of Bush's inclusion in his January State of the Union speech of the allegation that Hussein had been seeking uranium from Niger.
The fact that Grossman wanted the memo for a meeting at the White House is a tantalizing detail -- did he take the meeting? And if so, who was there?

There is tremendous public hunger for this drama, and it can't be dismissed as mere lurid fasacination with a salacious story. There is something deeply cathartic on a national level about watching these guys go down after all these years of listening to all the lies and watching as the dead bodies piled up that can't be explained away as fascination with the latest bout of reality TV.

To all the Power Tools and their acolytes who thought this story would die the death of indifference, you have never, ever been more wrong. And that, can we say, is quite an achievement.


Shorter Bob Bennett: Yeah, He's Fucked

Crooks & Liars has the video of Bob Bennett up from This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Bennet on Libby's letter:
GS: Did she believe that that letter was an attempt to steer her testimony?

BB: Well I...I wouldn't say the answer to that was yes, but it was very troubling. Our reaction when we got that letter, both Judy's and mine, was that was a very stupid thing to put in a letter, because it just complicated the situation. It was a very foolish thing to put in a letter.
According to Judy's article, much of her questioning before the grand jury was focused on that letter. Both Judy and Bennett seem to be tapdancing through landmines as they struggle to keep from giving a straight answer about whether she thought Scooter was trying to influence her testimony.

George S. did not press Bennett on the far more interesting question -- whether they saw Libby's letter as an attempt to influence Judy to only testify about the July meetings, and conveniently "forget" about the June one, and whether this was something she had actually done.

Scooter may vie with Judy for the this year's Bulwer-Lytton Prize for wretched writing, but alas The Hard Hitting Journalist of the Year Award will not be going to George.


Would You Like the Chicken or the Fish?

Will Bunch has a great post up, which -- in light of the fact that Fitzgerald now seems to have Cheney in his sites -- sheds a bit of light on why the Special Counsel might have reason to suspect the VP was involved in smearing Joe Wilson. He takes us back to a June July 16, 2003 dinner honoring Gerald Ford attended by Andrea Mitchell. Her husband, Alan Greenspan, was also a guest of honor, meaning Mrs. Greenspan likely sat next to Darth Cheney.

Why is this interesting? Because via the Chicago Tribune, March 5, 2004 we learn that Fitzgerald has subpoenaed not only the guest list, but at least one of the guests from this particular dinner (via TalkLeft):
The subpoena added journalists such as Mike Allen and Dana Priest of The Washington Post, Michael Duffy of Time magazine, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" and reporters from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press.


Finally, the subpoena requested a list of those in attendance at the White House reception on July 16 for former President Ford's 90th birthday. The White House on Thursday declined to release the list, and the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, which paid for the event, did not return phone calls.
Rather than spend my time ranting about Andrea Mitchell and her shameless insistence on covering this story like she wasn't up to her eyeballs in it, I'll bow to a superior pen and let Digby rant about Mitchell shooting the shit on Hardball with Tweety:
This story is the weirdest kabuki dance I've ever seen. I thought it was absurd when the news anchors held the exit poll results but winked and nodded all day about the outcome. (That's become so bizarre after the last two elections, however, that their winks and nods will be meaningless in any close election.) But this is ridiculous. We have big time reporters in the Washington press corps who know a lot more about what is going on than they are saying. A number of them have been interviewed by the Justice department or testified. They are part of the story. And yet they pretend that they are "objective" reporters who have no personal knowledge of events and don't even feel the need to issue a disclaimer saying that they had been interviewed or they testified and can't talk about it.
If Andrea Mitchell wants to call herself a journalist, the next time she opens her mouth let's fucking hear about this.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Next Time, Try

Judy is being more cooperative with the Wall Street Journal than she is the New York Times (part of the job hunt?) She gave them a phoner and cleared up some of the outstanding questions that the Times pieces did not:
In a brief telephone interview yesterday, Ms. Miller said she discovered the June 2003 notes in her office after being prompted to seek out answers to another question Mr. Fitzgerald had asked her. "There was an open question about something, and I said I would go back and look and see if there was anything in my notes that would address that question," she said yesterday.
Yeah, like "how does wearing an orange jumpsuit for the next twenty-five years strike you?"
She said she found the notebook in her office. She reiterated that she couldn't recall who told her the name that she transcribed as "Valerie Flame." "I don't remember who told me the name," she said, growing agitated. "I wasn't writing a story, remember?" Asked if the other source was Mr. Rove, she replied, "I'm not going to discuss anyone else that I talked to."
Well that's enlightening. Judy's a bitch, even on the job hunt. But it answers the question we all wanted to know the answer to -- to which set of notes, the June or July ones, was the "Valerie Flame" note attached?

Since we now know it's the June ones, we also know Judy punked Bennett, who made his deal with Fitzgerald to limit her testimony to only Libby under false pretenses, i.e., that she had no other sources.

DAMN I bet Bennett was hacked about that one.

But here's another enlightening moment from the WSJ:
Mr. Keller left the country late last week on a previously planned trip to Asia, the company said. Reached in Beijing, where he is visiting the paper's Asia bureau, Mr. Keller wrote in an email: "Knowing everything I know today about this case, I might have done some things differently, but I don't feel the least bit apologetic about standing up for a reporter's right to do the job."
But -- Judy just said she "wasn't writing a story." What "job" was she doing exactly, Bill?

Keller might think twice about rushing back. Because I did not even think about this at the time, but reader Andy brought it to my attention. In yesterday's NYT piece it says:
But Mr. Sulzberger and the paper's executive editor, Bill Keller, knew few details about Ms. Miller's conversations with her confidential source other than his name. They did not review Ms. Miller's notes. Mr. Keller said he learned about the "Valerie Flame" notation only this month. Mr. Sulzberger was told about it by Times reporters on Thursday.
Okay, Thursday was the 13th, the Times first published the fact that Judy found another notebook on October 8, so that makes Sulzberger Bang Bang the Idiot Boy. But as Andy notes, if Judy only found those notes a week ago, how could Keller know about the "Valerie Flame" notation "this month," which could mean weeks ago? We may only be parsing words here, but that sure is an odd way to describe last week.

I hear real estate is cheap in Shanghai.


Big Day For CondiLiar

John at Crooks & Liars now has the video up where Condi cops to the fact she is already acquainted with the Special Counsel in Traitorgate. And why would Mr. Fitzgerald be questioning her? From Sourcewatch (via Susan Hu):
The following year Rice was still touting the long-discredited claims - albeit somewhat qualified - about Iraq seeking uranium from Africa as justification for the war. "At the time that the State of the Union address was prepared, there were also other sources that said that they were, the Iraqis were seeking yellow cake, uranium oxide from Africa," Rice said on This Week with George Stephanopolous on the U.S. ABC network.
She was a member in good standing of the White House Iraq Group WHIG), whose documents Fitzgerald has long ago subpoenaed. And she went out there and sold that "mushroom cloud" bullshit like she was Cal Worthington trying to hawk a parking lot full of Vegas. Christ what a global embarrassment that was.

Did she have an investment in discrediting Wilson's claims? Does a bear shit in the woods? She wouldn't be sending up that trial balloons like this for nothing. I'm not saying she's definitely going to be indicted, but I bet she wants to get out in front of that particular news flash and it's a good sign even she thinks this whole thing is going to crack wide open.

While you're over at C&L you can enjoy watching Bill Kristol predict that Rove and Libby will be indicted. (Oh you know THAT ONE'S gotta hurt.)

Be good to yourself. You've earned it.


Proud Member of the "Vile Beyond Words" Community

In a ceremony utterly unaware its own self-consuming ironies, Mata Whori yesterday presented an award to Mark Felt on behalf of the First Amendment Coalition. Joining her on the panel was her long-time apologist Floyd Abrams:
Both Abrams and Miller attempted to equate her with Woodward, Bernstein and Felt as a courageous defender of the First Amendment.


In his keynote address, Floyd Abrams delivered a combination of tight legal argument and sweeping generalizations. In addition to accusing unnamed blogs of being "vile beyond words" during his speech, Abrams concluded the question and answer session lamenting "the level of bile... the level of personal cruelty... the level of near madness" directed against Miller. Yet, he never seriously addressed the reasons why many hold Miller in contempt, simply waving them off as having to do with her earlier work. In effect, Abrams pretended there were no connection between Miller's false, propagandistic reporting on Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction, and her involvement-however tangential or stillborn-in the counter-attack on Joseph Wilson for exposing part of that lie.  
Hey, Floyd: Didn't you get the boot? If you're not still on the clock, why are you peddling this shit?

Is it because your client made you look like a fool and you're too embarrassed to admit it? Or because a lifetime committed to defense of the First Amendment has now been washed away in the wake of the only thing anyone is ever going to remember you for -- prostituting both your reputation and the First Amendment itself in defense of a woman who tarted herself up in raiments you had to know only too well she did not deserve to wear?

Floyd's irrational anger would indicate that he is still in the throes of a wee bit of denial. He's probably spent the past twenty-four hours hugging the porcelain throne after reading Judy's self-serving justifications and obfuscations in the Times and getting a glimpse into how this is all going to play out for him.

Stay tuned, Floyd. We will continue to comb over ever detail, sort through every bit of information as we search for some kind of truth your client seems incapable of telling. We will probably make a lot of mistakes, but five Americans died yesterday on behalf of the lies your client peddled on the front page of the New York Times. We think it is worth the effort.

I recognize it is standard operating procedure for those of the ruling class to despise the prols when they have the unmitigated gall to question why they are being asked to die. I have no doubt that to your eyes it is indeed "vile." How wonderful that you and your client have the opportunity, at any moment, to step forward and end all the speculation by telling the truth.

We're waiting....


Who Is the Third Man?

Time Magazine is reporting that if Rove et. al. are indicted, the opportunities for Karl to take time off from work to spend time snorkeling in Aruba will be limitless, or -- as they put it -- "fight aggressively 'any bull___ charges.'" Well best of luck with that one, Karl.

But they also bring up something that I've been hearing from people close to the investigation, i.e, that there is a third man in all of this, not Rove and not Libby, who was out there spreading Plame's name in the media:
Fitzgerald's intentions aren't the only mystery. Another character in the drama remains unnamed: the original source for columnist Robert Novak, who wrote the first piece naming Plame. Fitzgerald, says a lawyer who's involved in the case, "knows who it is and it's not someone at the White House."
I don't know myself who this person is, but I'll tell you what I do know.

The person (and it could be a man or a woman, I just liked the easy title and wanted an excuse to post a picture of the film) appears to have been well-liked (which probably rules out John Bolton -- although I am by no means ruling out the possibility that Bolton had a hand in this) and the identity seems to be common knowledge amongst journalists in DC, who seem reluctant to expose his or her identity. The comment about "it's not someone at the White House" is ambiguous -- it could mean "someone who never worked at the White House," or "someone who no longer works at the White House."

From Bloomberg, July 18, 2005:
On the same day the [July 7 INR] memo was prepared, White House phone logs show Novak placed a call to White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, according to lawyers familiar with the case and a witness who has testified before the grand jury. Those people say it is not clear whether Fleischer returned the call, and Fleischer has refused to comment.

The Novak call may loom large in the investigation because Fleischer was among a group of administration officials who left Washington later that day on a presidential trip to Africa. On the flight to Africa, Fleischer was seen perusing the State Department memo on Wilson and his wife, according to a former administration official who was also on the trip.
We know that one of the things the White House has refused to turn over to Patrick Fitzgerald in his investigation are the phone logs from that Air Force One trip that would have ostensibly shown if Ari was on the phone with journalists.

Remember, Lawrence O'Donnell said at least three people would go down, plus one unindicted co-conspirator. We know about Libby and Rove, and the fact that Fitzgerald is opening up that pile of sores that is Darth Cheney with Judy Miller before the grand jury is a good indicator who that unindicted co-conspirator may be. But that leaves one unaccounted for.

Recently, beltway bore Andrea Mitchell has taken it upon herself to plant one in Ari's back every time she opens her mouth. Mitchell on Hardball last Tuesday:
We also know that, that paragraph, that document was circulated on Air Force One as the president was flying to Africa, that Ari Fletcher saw it, Colin Powell testified to that.  And that could be one of the key facts in this.
Now, Mrs. Greenspan always has an agenda, and hoping for any kind of candor or forthrightness from a woman who rarely if ever mentions that she herself was subpoenaed in the case is a real long shot, but it just may be that she is salting a sea of dissembling with some actual truth (who'd ever think to look there) so that when and if indictments come down and Ari himself gets one she can look back and say "see, I told you so" and pat herself on the back for being a bold investigative journalist.

Whoever it is -- CW says Fitzgerald has the goods on them. (BTW, I've got side bets on Fleitz and Hadley.)

That's it, that's everything I know. So cast your votes, who's going down?


Judy the Obscure

Well we finally got the tua culpa from Judith Miller we've all been expecting:
"W.M.D. - I got it totally wrong," she said. "The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them - we were all wrong. If your sources are wrong, you are wrong. I did the best job that I could."
In other news, Mohammed ElBaradai and the International Atomic Energy Agency win the Nobel Prize for getting it right. You can't blame Judy. It's hard to hear when you're so full of shit it's coming out your ears.

Besides, she was otherwise engaged in screwing over everyone she ever touched in this walking disaster.

She sticks it to her willfully ignorant bosses:
Interviews show that the paper's leaders, in taking what they considered to be a principled stand, ultimately left the major decisions in the case up to Ms. Miller, an intrepid reporter whom editors found hard to control.

"This car had her hand on the wheel because she was the one at risk," Mr. Sulzberger said.
News flash, Pinch: she's been driving on the rims, and you're along for the ride.

She sticks it to her co-workers:
In two interviews, Ms. Miller generally would not discuss her interactions with editors, elaborate on the written account of her grand jury testimony or allow reporters to review her notes.
So much for the Hallmark Moment that was Judy's return to the newsroom.

Then she starts to get a little crazy and reckless. She sticks it to her lawyer, which is not really the best idea when he's the only thing standing between you and a ten year stretch in chick prison:
Mr. Bennett, who by now had carefully reviewed Ms. Miller's extensive notes taken from two interviews with Mr. Libby, assured Mr. Fitzgerald that Ms. Miller had only one meaningful source. Mr. Fitzgerald agreed to limit his questions to Mr. Libby and the Wilson matter.
Which would have been fine if it was true, but unfortunately Judy left one thing out:
On one page of my interview notes, for example, I wrote the name "Valerie Flame." Yet, as I told Mr. Fitzgerald, I simply could not recall where that came from, when I wrote it or why the name was misspelled.

I testified that I did not believe the name came from Mr. Libby, in part because the notation does not appear in the same part of my notebook as the interview notes from him.
Which means Judy DID have another source, and Bennett went to Fitzgerald and sold him a big, fat load of bullshit in order to cut a deal for his client and get the limited testimony she was so proud of:
Without both agreements, I would not have testified and would still be in jail.
Yeah you are PRETTY clever, Judy ol' gal. Get yourself a deal to preserve your "principles" by punking your lawyer and getting him to sell one of the toughest US attorneys in the country a bill of goods.

Wow, you are sharp.

Judy skillfully avoids revealing in the article specifically when in the timeline this "unremembered source" (*cough*) revealed to her the identity of "Valerie Flame."

She had two sets of notes -- one she turned over to Fitzgerald covering her July 8 and July 13, 2003 meetings with Libby, which she testified about in her original September 30 command performance before the grand jury. Then there are the one she "discovered" buried in her desk at the Times covering the June 23, 2003 meeting.

(As a side note, no wonder she was so nervous in prison. If I had incriminating evidence that could send me to the slam indefinitely that was sitting in the midst of a bunch of people by whom I was pretty much universally hated, I'd be thinking "I owed it to myself" to get the fuck out of there, too. Hey -- how did Fitzgerald find out about that June meeting?)

Adam Entous of Reuters says that the "Flame" reference appeared in the July notes:
Miller also disclosed for the first time that the notebook she used for an interview with Libby in July 2003 contained the name "Valerie Flame," a clear reference to Valerie Plame, the covert operative whose outing triggered a sweeping criminal investigation that has shaken the Bush administration.
But unless Entous has some special inside information, and there is no indication he has any more than what appears in the Times, I think he's presuming something that isn't there. A careful reading of Miller's sodomizing of the journalistic tradition shows no indication of which set of notes the name appears in.

Indeed, inclusion in the June notes seems more likely. Bennett didn't seem to realize that Judy had any other sources before he went off on his mission to poke the pit bull with a sharp stick.

And misspelling a name like that is a mistake you make the first time you hear it -- not the second or third or fourth. She says that Cowboy Scoots didn't bring up the name of Valerie Plame until the July 8 meeting, however:
I said I couldn't be certain whether I had known Ms. Plame's identity before this meeting, and I had no clear memory of the context of our conversation that resulted in this notation.
If Entous is right about the appearance in the July notes, and the second "Flame" source was already indicated by Bennett and dismissed by Fitzgerald as not being "meaningful" when he cut a deal for Judy to exclude any testimony that was not about Libby, Fitzgerald wouldn't be able to ask about that, right?
Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I could recall discussing the Wilson-Plame connection with other sources. I said I had, though I could not recall any by name or when those conversations occurred.
What's that? Why, that would be Patrick Fitzgerald asking questions at the time outside the scope of the deal to limit her testimony to Libby. Moreover, she did not refuse to answer. Which means that her original deal with Fitzgerald was, indeed, bustado.

So what was Judy doing in Fitzgerald's office all day Tuesday with her criminal -- not First Amendment -- lawyer Bob Bennett?

I'm guessing she was playing Let's Make a Deal.